Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Learning to Fail

As promised I'm back with lessons learned in my effort to adjust to life back in the ambulance. Last night I learned how much pressure I have placed on myself to succeed at this. I feel like I am setting an example for the EMS field in this area. I'm not claiming to be some great trailblazer by any means, but I feel like I'm being watched closely. That brings me to lasts night hard learned lesson, learning to fail.

Yesterday was a busy day, not one of those days where you can't catch your breath, but just steady enough to make the hours pass quickly. Most of our patients were actually very sick. I can't go into details about conditions, but it was a very ALS day none the less. My last patient for the night was critical, my first chance to really practice my skills on my own. It's fitting that the first day back in the ambulance on my own, I would be greeted by a patient that truly needed my help. As we loaded the patient onto the stretcher and made our way back to the ambulance everything was going fine. After loading the patient into the back I stepped up onto the back step, as I have learned to do, by locking out the prosthetic knee and stepping up with my sound side. This time as I went to step, I got ahead of myself and hadn't fully locked out the prosthetic. As the knee started to bend, I did the only thing I knew to do...I fell..Hard. Nothing was injured other than my pride, but it took quite a beating, seeing as I fell in front of my new partner, the patient, and a few of patients that were outside smoking as we loaded up our patient. I quickly hopped up, locked out the knee, and climbed in the back to resume patient care. It only lasted about 30 seconds total, but it was enough for me to be thrown off kilter. Once in the back I resumed treating the patient. Here I would love to tell you how the run went perfect and that was the only hiccup. Sadly, I can't report that. This was one of those runs where everything goes wrong. The patient received the best care I could provide, we arrived at the hospital with the patient doing a little better than when we picked him up, but a little better is never my goal. I prefer to work in drastically better, I pride myself on excellent patient care, but this was my test for the night. I cared for the patient. He made it safely to the ER where his condition was quickly treated, and hopefully after some time in the ICU he will be on the mend.

I realized after this run that I have placed a tremendous amount of undue stress on myself. I have placed so much emphasis on myself to succeed that failure of any amount, be it not getting an IV or as simple as not getting my paperwork completed as quickly as I would like, is not acceptable. I have a great support system, I have all the proper pillars in place to succeed, but when it comes down to it, I have built myself to accept nothing less than perfection. Last night, I realized that this is a recipe for self-destruction. I have to realize that medicine is called a practice for a reason. It's not a science, it's never exact, it's messy, it's dirty, and sometimes all things will come together and it's beautiful. That is rarely the case, I think it's more like learning to walk again; medicine, just like walking, is learning to fall gracefully. I realized last night that I'm not going to be perfect, and that is just fine. I just have to do what I have been doing, keep getting up. Learn from my mistakes, implement changes as necessary, and continue to better myself. I have to learn how to win from a failure. I have to learn to fall gracefully again.

I'm back on the ambulance Friday, time to implement the changes that I need to and make sure to lock out the knee. If I fall or fail so what, as long as I keep getting back up. The patients get the best care I can provide for them at the time, then I have succeeded. I'm trying to prove that even though I'm "disabled" I am not handicapped, I just have to adapt my methods. I'll end this with a quote I saw on the Amputee Coalition of America's FaceBook Page. "I'm not disabled, I'm just playing life on Legendary Mode"


  1. Great post sir. Very introspective! Always good to come across other KY bloggers :)

  2. Joe, I never "knew" you as a bi-ped but I can't imagine you had more true grace than you do now. This post brought tears to my eyes.

  3. Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.
    - Chinese Proverb

    Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.
    - F. Scott Fitzgerald

    And one of my own.
    We fail, to learn. Or we fail to learn.

  4. You are not disabled.... Just differently-abled. In doing what you are doing, getting back on that "truck" you are proving this ten-fold. Enjoying the reading of your journey as you make your way to prosthetic medic. Good Luck to you!!!